They are known to be true creatures of the extreme: tardigrades survive in particularly hostile environments, some species even resist the vacuum of space! And a new study has just given them a new feat: resisting intense dehydration.
In the void of space, belowphenomenal, at temperatures close to or on the contrary very high …, the , from the height of their size of one millimeter, resist everything! Especially in a state of intense, according to a study recently published in . Tardigrades enter a metabolic state, the researchers explain called anhydrobiosis: their vital functions are therefore almost completely interrupted, but if the humidity returns, all the restarts.
A process that the team of biologists wanted to deepen: they first used achemical, trifluoroethanol, to reproduce the conditions of dehydration . Then, after much manipulation, they managed to identify themselves surrounding the little creatures, and forming a kind of protective gel around them.
“It is believed that when water leaves a cell, some kind of protein must help the cell maintain its strength.to avoid collapsing on itself, Takekazu Kunieda said in a co-author of the study e at the University of Tokyo. After testing different types, we found that the abundant cytoplasmic proteins soluble in the (Cahs) unique to tardigrades, they are responsible for protecting their cells from dehydration.
CAHS proteins that form gelatinous filaments when a human cell in culture undergoes dehydration. © A Tanaka and T Kunieda
Challenges for future medicine
These identified proteins are formed as acomposed of gelatinous filaments, when the cell that contains them dehydrates. In this way they protect it from mechanical stresses that could break it. A reversible process: when the cell recovers water, the filaments shrink. in any case, the Cahs are unique to tardigrades although, according to the study, “Proteins with similar properties may be present in other organisms that are tolerant to and contribute to to “. A great challenge for science, because such a mechanism would allow in particular to better preserve some drugs.
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